Sacred Heart School (Timaru) - 16/07/2013

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Sacred Heart School is a Years 1-8 school in central Timaru. Its Catholic special character and the values that teachers promote are very evident in its respectful school culture.

ERO spoke with several groups of older students. These students were very positive about their school. They felt that their teachers cared about their learning and that Sacred Heart is a friendly school. They also appreciated the many opportunities for leadership, sports and community service.

Teachers work well as a team and show a strong commitment to their work and ongoing learning. They work closely with parents and keep them well informed about students’ learning. The school is well supported by its parents and the local parish community.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Overall, teachers and leaders in the school make good use of student achievement information to support students’ learning.


Most students can talk about their next learning steps and/or learning goals. Students share learning journals, with samples of work and assessments, with their parents. Senior students talk confidently about how well they are achieving and show the evidence for this. These students lead the conferences with their parents about their progress and achievement.

In classrooms, teachers make very good use of learning information to identify and monitor the progress of students who need extra help. ERO saw excellent examples of day-to-day assessment, especially in the junior school. This led to teachers adapting their teaching to the needs of individual children. Through a variety of ways, such as student-led meetings, journals with assessment samples, reports, and electronic media, parents receive useful information about their children’s learning. This includes constructive ideas as to how they can support their children.

Within each syndicate, teachers frequently discuss the learning needs of individuals and groups of students and seek ways to enhance their learning. Syndicate leaders and teachers are very aware of school targets to raise the achievement of identified students. Through the year, they monitor carefully these students’ progress.

ERO observed students learning in settled and well-managed classrooms. Teachers are very focused on lifting students’ achievement in writing and mathematics. This can be seen in classroom programmes, and in teachers’ professional learning and discussions.

School information for 2012 indicates that 74% of students achieve at or above National Standards in reading. For mathematics and written language, 55% are at or above the National Standards. The school has set targets for 2013 to lift achievement in these areas.

Trustees are very focused on how well students progress and achieve. They receive regular reports about students’ progress towards the targets. They use this and other achievement information well when making resourcing decisions. Over the last three years, the board has provided significant funding to support target groups and other students.

Area for Review and Development

Some aspects of target setting and reporting on student achievement could be improved. Targets and related reports need to be more specific in their wording. This will make it easier for the school to show what difference the teachers have made in helping students reach the National Standards and other school goals.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school's curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning. However, some aspects need to be strengthened.


Since the 2009 ERO review, teachers have reviewed their guidelines for most learning areas. Completed documents now align with the school’s vision, current teaching practice and the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

Students enjoy a wide range of learning experiences. Teachers emphasise supporting the ‘whole person’. This is evident in the religious education, regular physical activity, and social service. Older students spoke enthusiastically about the opportunities to support and act as role models for younger students.

Since the previous ERO review, the school has made huge progress in how teachers and students use information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance teaching and learning. Senior students told ERO how much they appreciate having access to a greater range of educational ICT resources in class and at home.

Teachers are very reflective in their work. They constantly look for ways to improve what they do, and are responsive to new ideas and professional learning. They often share their expertise with one and another. For example, the teacher responsible for te reo Māori supports other teachers in this area through regular lessons and useful resources.

Area for Review and Development

The school has taken time and care in the review of its curriculum documents. It now needs to complete the review of the outstanding learning areas. Teachers would also benefit from more detailed guidelines as to how integrated-theme studies are delivered.

When the review of guidelines and expectations is complete, the school will need to implement regular review of how well:

  • each learning area is resourced and implemented
  • teaching and learning expectations are met
  • students are supported to make decisions about what and how they learn
  • Māori perspectives are integrated into different learning areas and in all classes.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

Māori students told ERO that there is a greater valuing of their culture and language in the school now. Some Māori students have been identified as leaders. They have been given opportunities to grow and share their expertise in te reo Māori and cultural activities. These students expressed excitement and pride in being able to teach others.

Throughout the school, Māori students are well supported in their learning. Their progress and achievement is closely monitored. Students who have arrived from other schools have been made to feel welcome and valued.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

Overall, the school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.


Since the 2009 ERO review, there have been few changes in the teaching staff. Teachers share resources, help each other and show a strong commitment to their work. They are very well supported by their syndicate leaders.

The appraisal system has greatly improved and is now more rigorous. ERO saw some examples of detailed feedback to teachers. Teachers have useful individual and school-wide professional goals.

Trustees are well informed about school events and operations. They are strongly focused on supporting student learning and the Catholic character of the school. These priorities influence their decision making and are very evident in their meeting records. They regularly survey staff, parents and students to gather their views.

Area for Review and Development

ERO and the principal agree that the next steps are to:

  • improve self-review and the usefulness of the school’s strategic and annual plans
  • better show how the school responds to staff, student and parent feedback
  • In particular, the school needs to develop guidelines and other resources for effective self review.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

16 July 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 58% Boys: 42%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā










Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

16 July 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2009

April 2007

January 2004